Recently, I’ve noticed a change in the stress levels of Wellington’s university population that stomp the streets of Wellington up and down Willis Street and Lambton Quay.
Instead of lazy, laughing youths I’ve been seeing guys and girls alike, frantically racing around town, hearing murmurs of words like ‘application’ and ‘referees’. Welcome to the most tense time in the calendar of a students lifecycle - applying for graduate jobs.
When I finished university in 2012, I thought I had seen the last of this horrific period in my life. You have to juggle university study, lectures and tests - while applying for anywhere between 4 to 10 jobs at big corporate businesses. Add to that relationships, hobbies and work, the whole thing can become incredibly overwhelming. I studied law, applying to all the serious large law firms. When I ended up being accepted by one, I immediately resolved to block out the experience forever more. Alas, it was not to be.
"Welcome to the most tense time in the calendar of a students lifecycle - applying for graduate jobs"
WATCH OUR VISIT TO THE STORE ABOVE
2017 has been a walk down the memory lane, going through the graduate job application experience hand in hand with my boyfriend Matt. One year younger than me, Matt and I met two and a half years ago and, on that first date at Plum on Cuba Street, he told me he had taken a break from uni. He’d started studying originally in 2009 but quit in 2012 after a bit too much party and the Canterbury earthquakes. Being in my second year of working, thankful to have uni behind me, you can imagine that this was something I hadn’t factored into my checklist for ‘an ideal guy’.
After about two more dates, I was thoroughly won over by Matt’s funny personality and kind nature. So naturally, to show him I liked him, I gave him my ‘education is really important to me’ speech (probably borrowed from my parents). Classic, Lucy. We talked about how going back to university would give more opportunity and the sacrifice now would be worth it in the long run. After he got burnt out working in a contract role for 6 months, Matt decided that it was finally time to return to study commerce at Victoria University of Wellington. We were in it together, for better or worse.
"We were in it together, for better or worse"
Now, two years on, through part-time jobs, juggling rent, moving, flatmates, weird shift hours and only one day off a week together to actually hang out, Matt hit the ground running, applying for graduate jobs all through March. It’s been chaotic, anxious and exasperating. It’s had us nutting out at each other about whether we’ll have to move to Auckland (guess how I feel about that!) and endless emails with cover letters to proof read. But I have to keep reminding myself that it is all worth it, despite the short-term stress. We’re moving forward, and the future is exciting. Interviews and getting ready for working life is the sign of progress. And nothing more signals progress than finally getting ‘the suit’.
After Matt finally found out he had an interview, we took the plunge to find something that fitted the calibre of the company he was interviewing. Only the best would do. Rembrandt suits recently opened their first Wellington store on Johnston Street this month, so it was obvious where to go. While Rembrandt has multiple stores in Auckland, Dunedin, Palmerston North and Sydney, and stock everywhere from David Jones to Ballantynes they’ve actually never had their own store in Wellington so it was very exciting to get to go and see it all shiny and newly opened.
"I’m a big supporter to buying local and love that Rembrandt are still in business after over seventy years"
I’m a big supporter to buying local and love that Rembrandt is still in business after over seventy years. They continue to make their custom made suits in Lower Hutt, which is incredible. Bespoke is definitely in their blood. The new shop is their way of paying tribute to their Wellington heritage. Walking up the set of stairs off the street felt like being a seven-year-old in a toy store. There were so many beautiful weaves, colours and fabrics, it was impossible to know where to start. Luckily, the lovely Sunday assistant manager, Nick, showed us the ropes and helped Matt find a perfect Charcoal number, a thick sturdy wool blend tie and a crisp shirt with purple cross-hatching.
While he was fitted, I wandered through the store, drinking it all in. The shop is filled with bespoke furnishings from Wellington furniture store, Backhouse Furniture, a rug from Precinct 35 on Ghuznee Street, display cabinets from Proffer and coffee by Supreme. Every detail is carefully thought out, from the choice of magazine on display (Monocle, of course) to the pictures on the walls (Fun Fact: Rembrandt support the Phoenix players by suiting them up). It made it feel even more special to know that Wellington companies, that value integrity, quality and finish, all were collected together in the Rembrandt store. Good company keeps good company.
"That moment when you see your partner in a suit, after years of scruffy jumpers and sneans is an emotional one"
That moment when you see your partner in a suit, after years of scruffy jumpers and sneans is an emotional one. No longer was he a boy wearing the oversized Farmers number he’d pulled out for his Grandmother’s funeral 2 years ago (it was from his ball). He was fully standing, properly proud. “What do you think?” Matt said. I made like I had onion in my eyes while Nick stood back, nodding in approval, before leaning in to adjust Matt’s tie. The final flourish was a pocket square in contrasting colours. After all that work, the hours at the library, the lack of Sunday sleep ins - it all seemed worth it. Matt looked finally comfortable as a man. The fit was right. He was the genuine article I’d always known he was. Finally, he just looked the part.
"The fit was right. He was the genuine article I’d always known he was. Finally, he just looked the part."
"No matter what degree you’re applying for jobs in right now, applying for graduate jobs is more than ‘hard’. It’s a time of self-doubt, sleeplessness and questioning whether all this was worth it"
No matter what degree you’re applying for jobs in right now, applying for graduate jobs is more than ‘hard’. It’s a time of self-doubt, sleeplessness and questioning whether all this was worth it. Buying a suit is more than buying a new outfit. It’s the time where you’re finally ready to take on the world. They say ‘Fake it until you make it’. Amy Cuddy in her famous TED talk said ‘Fake it until you become it.’ When you get THAT suit at last, when you’re treated with respect and dignity by others suiting you up or out on the street, when you catch a glimpse of yourself in the window of a building - you don’t need to. Clothes maketh the man. No more faking it. You ARE it. Now is the chance to be the genuine article you always were (just like Rembrandt). And that alone makes it all worthwhile.